Our last major stop in Michigan’s paradisial U.P. was at Miners Castle along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, a spectacular 73+thousand-acre park which includes 42 miles of Lake Superior shoreline. If you ever get a chance to visit, I’d really recommend taking a boat tour along the coast, because you can’t see the incredible colors and intricate designs of the rocky formations nearly as well when you’re standing atop the sandstone cliffs. However, there are also many memorable hikes along the forested ridges. Of course, they tend to be steep and rooty, but they’re absolutely beautiful! On this especially glorious August morning, we opted to visit Miners Castle and take a hike along the top of the 200′ cliffs overlooking Lake Superior. However, we got distracted when we saw groups of kayakers plying the clear, quiet waters, and we noticed that Miners Beach, which is usually quite deserted,was brimming over with groups of kayakers! So, instead of taking a hike to Sand Pointalong the rocky cliff tops, we decided to trek the trail down to Miners Beach. Happily, there’s a well traveled foot path that leads along Miners River as it meanders from the high country down to Miners Beach. Miners River has its origin in Hiawatha National Forest, and it’s the largest river in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The water is cold but clear, and it’s very clean, despite looking brown from all the tannic acid (due to decomposed vegetation). However, the color doesn’t stop anybody (like these children) from playing! Near the end of the trail there’s a footbridge across Miners River,and then it’s just a quick jaunt along the sandy river shoreline before you’re out to Lake Superior and ready for a swim! Well, we could have if we’d only thought to bring our swimsuits! Too bad. 😦 The other thing we’d failed to consider was just how hot and thirsty we might become. Water water everywhere, but ne’er a drop to drink! Thankfully, it was blueberry season, and even the little bursts of wild sweetness were enough to invigorate us for the return trek (uphill).
It struck me that we took fewer precautions for this hike because we were so familiar with the area. Instead of my usual “Semper paratus” attitude (“always ready”), I felt so at home that I became careless. Not exactly that “familiarity breeds contempt” but that—at least in my case—familiarity bred a lack of normal precaution and thoughtfulness in planning. Is there any chance you and I are so familiar with this world that we’re not making adequate preparations for our spiritual journeys? Are we packing the swimsuit (garments) of salvation and the water of life so we don’t miss out?